SOUTHDEAN, a parish, in the district of Jedburgh, county of Roxburgh, 10 miles (S. by W.) from Jedburgh; containing, with the village of Chesters, 868 inhabitants. This place, which is also called Chesters, derives the name of Southdean, peculiarly appropriated to the upper part, from its having formed the south valley in the ancient forest of Jed, which was, with very trifling exceptions, wholly cut down during the last century. The parish is pleasantly situated on the banks of the river Jed, is nearly thirteen miles in length and seven in breadth, and comprises about 25,000 acres, of which little more than 3000 are arable and in cultivation, 500 woodland and plantation, and the remainder sheep-walks and rough pasture. The soil in the lower parts is generally a light black earth, with gravel, but in some places a strong clay; along the banks of the river, gravel inclining to heath is predominant; and in the upper parts is a light and friable soil, with moss and stiff clay. The system of agriculture is much improved, and an additional quantity of arable land has been recently brought into cultivation. Considerable improvements have been also made in plantations, and in draining the sheep pastures, which have greatly benefited the lands, and increased the healthiness of the parish. About 15,000 sheep, principally of the Cheviot breed, are pastured; and there are about 1600 long-woolled sheep, of which kind a few were introduced about thirty years since. Black-cattle are also reared in considerable numbers, and the breed has lately been improved by the introduction of the short-horned bull from the south. The wool produced here was formerly sent into Yorkshire for sale, but is now uniformly bought by the manufacturers of Hawick, Galashiels, and Jedburgh; it is of excellent quality, and greatly esteemed.
   There are several quarries of red and white sandstone, the latter well adapted for ornamental buildings; and coal is supposed to exist, though some attempts lately made to procure it were abandoned on account of the expense. A vein of antimony was some years since discovered on the lands of Abbotrule, but it has not been worked with success. Abbotrule is an ancient mansion pleasantly situated; Wolflee is a handsome mansion of modern erection, in the early English style of domestic architecture. The rateable annual value of the parish is £6172. Southdean is in the presbytery of Jedburgh and synod of Merse and Teviotdale, and patronage of the Crown and Lord Douglas, the latter having two turns to one of the Crown: the minister's stipend is £234. 9. 3., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £40 per annum. The church, built in 1690, and in excellent repair, is conveniently situated. The parochial school affords education to about ninety scholars; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with £20 fees, and a house and garden, Tumuli were formerly very numerous, but they have now almost disappeared in the progress of cultivation: there are still, however, several remains of ancient fortifications, or peels, which were of frequent occurrence in places situated near the border; and also various sites of camps, some of circular form. Among some of the strongholds at the extremity of the parish, admirably adapted for concealment, the Rev. Mr. Veitch and Mr. Bryson, who, according to Dr. Mc Crie, suffered during the persecution of the Scottish Church, found shelter and a secure asylum. The scene of the Raid of the Red Swire, the last of the border conflicts, is within the limits of the parish. Thomson, the poet, whose father was incumbent of Southdean, to which he was translated from Ednam about two years after the poet's birth, spent his childhood and part of his youth in this parish; and there is still, in a garden, a hawthorn of unusual size which is regarded with veneration, from its association in the minds of the inhabitants with the memory of the author of The Seasons.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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